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Random Thoughts from the Mad Professor

With tongue firmly planted-in-cheek, there are things that sometimes occur to me as I am leaning up against the craps table waiting for a "chip-fill" or waiting until new dice are brought into the game near the end of a shift.   Here are a few of those random thoughts:

On Random Shooters (or… Why "feed the chickens" if they don't lay the eggs?)

You've seen them; they pick up the dice and hurl them down the table like Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies would feed her chickens.  It's gotten so that I now wait for a non-setter to roll five times before I'll even make my Place bets. With dice-setters, especially if I have seen them shoot on the previous round, my confidence level in them is usually a lot higher. If they are precision-rolling the dice (same grip, same loft and trajectory, same speed, same target spot on the other end of the table, same settling spot for the dice, etc.), then my confidence in their abilities is usually not disappointed.

On Comps (or…Why play more to get less?)

I often hear from players who are so pleased to get any mail from a casino that they happily pay a casino-rate of $149 per night for a standard room at one of the Strip's mega-resorts.  That's great, but when they see my fully-comped  $350 per night deluxe suite at a slightly less-yuppie-populated hotel, they wonder why their much larger table action gets them so much less in the way of comps.  Pick a slightly smaller or older hotel and enjoy the best that they have to offer.  If you still want to play with shiny-shirted 20-something dot.com former millionaires, go ahead.  You can still give some of your play to the mega-resorts and enjoy their incredible gourmet meal comps; but if you want the full RFB (room, food & beverage), stay at the hotel that has been open for a little longer, and your play will produce more for you.

On Players Cards (or…Was that a Credit Card that you just handed the dealer?)

Depending on your level of play and the amount of time that you spend at the tables, various casino will…Win or Lose …pick up the entire cost of your stay with them.   I have to assume that you've joined each casinos players club where you gamble; and you are handing in the card and asking to have your play rated every time when you buy-in. Likewise, when you change tables you should hand the card in again and make sure the floor-person gets your rating card moved over to the table you're currently on.  Always ask for a comp BEFORE you leave the table.  NEVER continue to PLAY at the table while waiting for a comp. The longer you stand there not placing bets, the quicker they'll get the comp handled.  I can't remember the last time I was turned down for something I asked for.  Increase your buy-in for a larger amount than you intend to play with. It doesn't mean you have to put it at risk, it just increases your "compability".  If all else fails, take your business to another casino that caters more to your level of play.

On More Comps (or…Why all comps are not created equal.)

While some may like the fancy cabinetry in their Bellagio, Mirage, Mandalay or MGM room, while the casino offers a "discounted room rate". There are other hotels that will lick your kneecaps & drool at your feet if you gave them the same kind of action.

WHO?   Tropicana, Luxor, San Remo, Orleans, NYNY, Barbary Coast, Imperial Palace, Frontier, Stardust, Treasure Island, Riviera, Stratosphere, Sahara, and any Downtown hotel (including Golden Nugget).  However, if they don't know you (by way of a Players Card), then they can't comp you.

On Drinking (or…How the casino separates Man from Money?)

I am not a tea-tottler by any means.  I have a bar at home that rivals some of the most complete hotel bar set-ups that I have ever seen.  However, I don't drink alcohol when I play because I find that it makes it easier for the casino to separate a man from his money. On the other hand, one of my Texas friends is one of those triple bourbon with "branch-water" type of guys.   During a hot roll that I had at the Golden Nugget a while back, be kept fully pressing/parlaying all of his bets. He usually bets medium-large, but in this case he was betting in the most obscene way to the point where some numbers had reached the table max. At the end of that hand, he was up $6,000, but he had left $27,000 in bets on the table when the 7 finally appeared.  When he sobered up, his realization of lost profit almost drove him to drink…again!

On Being Different (or…Why is he the only one making money at this table?)

When someone comes along with an unorthodox playing method, all the rail-birds sing like a bunch of old crows. However, the smart-player almost always leaves with more profit in hand than your standard run-of-the mill, missionary-position PL or DP player.

On being Hassled (or…Why do pit critters seem to pick on certain people?)

If on almost every circuit of the table, a player has a hot hand, in some casinos he is about to enter the "Hassle Zone". It can be eerily like the Twilight Zone, but instead of being hunted by soul-less zombies, there are pit personnel will act like the money that you are winning is their own personal money that is being taking away from their children and loved ones.  Some small-to-medium houses really start to "sweat the money", even when a player is only ahead by $500-$1,000. To name a few (although some are among my favorites because of the "dead-cat-bounce" that their old tables or felt exhibits, and the fact that off-hours shooting is sometimes a solo act) would be: Sahara, Frontier (where certain stick-men will "lean-in" against the shooters position so that the shooter has to change angles, etc.), San Remo (where they will sweat a $200 win if it looks like the shooter has some skill), Fitzgeralds, Las Vegas Club, Riviera, Four Queens (where the pit is so superstitious that they will remove a "lucky" pair of dice from the table and place them into the "penalty box" drawer for a few hours or until the dice are changed at the end of the shift) , Luxor, Boardwalk, and Harrah's. There are others of course.

One place (which I won't name) wouldn't let me shoot the dice after two very long hands.

After a sufficient cooling-off period (of four months), I deposited a rather large amount of cash ($9,000.) into the cage to play against as "front-money". This is a Low-minimum Vegas casino. Either they didn't remember me; or the prospect of having a shot at my bankroll was sufficient for them to let me play with very little hassle, other than occasional reminders to hit the far wall with the dice.

On Tipping (or…We like jokes and tokes, but not in that order!

I have found that if I tip the dealers fairly early in my play, then they are less likely to feel the need to enforce a "NO WINNERS ALLOWED HERE!" attitude. The boxmen will usually soften their approach somewhat at that point.  So in the almost seven years that I've been doing this full-time; to be barred from shooting only once is either pure luck, or it just might have something to do with garnering the help of the crew.  It sometimes only takes a quick bet "for the boys" to  erase any arbitrary rules or rude impatience.

On Money Management (or…There's a profit in my rack…how did that happen?

One of the easiest ways to leave the casino and not just the table with a profit, is to "lock-up' a portion of your winnings.  Easier said than done, but as your winnings accumulate at the table, set a win plateau past which you will not let your playing bankroll fall under.  If you start with $1,000 and you currently have $1,270 in your rack, you may want to use $170 to continue playing with.  If that goes…you GO.  Yes, you may be unhappy that you lost back $170, but you can be comforted by the fact that you still have your original stake AND a $100 profit "locked-up".  If your winnings increase, ratchet up the "locked-in" plateau.  Again, do not bet any of the money that you have as either your bankroll or your set-aside profit. 

On Craps as a Living (…or "Would you like Fries with that order, Sir?")

Can you make a decent living playing craps?  Many people that approach me at the tables ask me this same question. However, most of them are not happy when they hear the answer, or they choose to ignore the advice because it "...just seems too damn hard!"

(i) I am content to earn $1,000 per day. My average day involves about 6 to 8 hours of play. Many people say that they couldn't stand at a craps table day in and day out. I say that I couldn't stand on the assembly line or sit-in on endless meetings day in and day out, although I did the latter for almost 15 years.

(ii) I don't look for the BIG Session or Monster Roll to carry me through, although I'll be betting right in there sharing some lucky shooters' good fortune when it does occur. In 90% of the cases, it is my throwing that is producing the long-roll. I don't mind if others profit, but I don't rely on them to make a profit for me during their roll. When others are shooting, my betting is ultra-conservative, but is also set up to take ever-increasing advantage of a good roll.

(iii) I am prepared to walk away with a modest profit or even a loss if my Precision-Shooting is not yielding its normal reward. I occasionally have an "off-day". I have stood as a solo-shooter at a table (my IDEAL conditions) and not been able to get into the right rhythm. Even under those circumstances I will walk away to give myself a break and to regain my perspective.

(iv) I approach this game as a business, so I always know how much I am up or down. I lock-in profit at various levels.

(v) I do not play when I am tired, irritated, upset or unfocused. If something happens at the table to distract or unsettle me, I suspend my betting until I am content and focused, otherwise I walk away. That too is part of managing your money and earning a living.

(vi) Playing within your "comfort zone" is a very important factor in making a living. Play at the LOWEST level that you are comfortable with. It gives you more flexibility in managing your money than a higher-minimum table will afford.

(vii) Money Management combined with Skill and Precision-Shooting, Knowledge, Bankroll and various Betting Methods all learned and applied properly are the linchpins to consistent earnings in this game. At that point, craps is no longer a negative-expectation game, but rather a lucrative lifestyle.  

On Precision-Throwing (…or Gee, maybe he's just on a NINE year lucky streak!)

In a way, craps can be compared to the game of golf or almost any other type of sport.

I suppose there are probably as many or more golfers than there are craps players. Yet, while all may aspire for that perfect hole in one, or even a sub-par round...there are very few that earn a living playing golf. Oh sure, there are a lot of instructors and a ton of people selling assistance devices that look more like draconian torture machines, but there are few that make a great living at it. Even in the pro ranks very few can even compete on a weekly basis with the likes of Tiger Woods. Now here's a guy who places a small round ball over several hundreds of yards of uneven earth into a small cup...and he does it over and over and over...no, not every shot...but he sure is consistent, and I understand that he makes a decent living.

Are you a baseball fan? Ever see Randy Johnson pitch. Now here's a guy who only really has one good pitch...oh... but what a pitch it is! What makes his pitch so much better than yours or my son's pitch?  SKILL!  I have no aspirations to pitch or chase a little white ball around in the grass, but I sure enjoy setting the dice, softly tossing them at just the right spot, with just the right speed, etc. and seeing very consistent outcomes.

On Appropriate Methods (or… Hasn't he ever heard of the Pass Line?)

I do know of one mechanical engineer from northern Michigan who has been using a unique throwing-style for the past 10 years or so. His side-arm style is unorthodox, but the zero-rate vertical spin, high-rate horizontal spin, makes the dice appear to have lots of in-air movement, but in reality they land and SLIDE almost always exactly on the "up-face" that they were set on.  Unfortunately, this chap has to travel around A LOT, so that he does not wear out his welcome (and I suppose so that the casinos do not associate his face with the disappearance of their money). He rarely plays at any one place for more than 3 or 4 hands, and then moves on to the next casino, or next gaming jurisdiction. I have never been able to perfect his throw, and prefer my previously mentioned grip, aim, focus, loft, trajectory, target, etc.

On Dice-Setting (or…How did he do that?)

Be mindful that to make money the dice do not have to land on the precise correct face Pass Line number every roll. Because of the dice-set and throw that I use, there is a definite lack of 7's that show up.  I can't tell you exactly what number is likely to roll next, but based on my current success there's only a 1-in-18 chance that it will be a 7-out.  That compares rather favorably to the numerical 1-in-6 chance in random-throwing.  Sure, sometimes during an off-night or bad session, some of my hands can't get past 4 or 5 rolls, but this is easily offset when "rhythm" is achieved, and 30 or 40 rolls follow without the 7 showing.

On My Favorite Set (or…Why is he fiddling with the dice?)

I use the "crossed-sixes" set once my Point number has been established.  This eliminates the axis, which eliminates four faces from the dice, and thereby reduces the possible combinations to 32 instead of 36. Place numbers constitute 19 out of these 32 combinations, and the 7 only shows up 4 out of 32. In that event, you have Place numbers just under 60% of the time, and the 7 will show 12.5% of the time (if the dice don't roll in mirror combination to each other). If I had to live with the true randomness of the 36 combinations all of the time, there is no way that I could earn a living playing this negative-expectation game...THAT WOULD BE GAMBLING!!!

If we engineer out at least 33% of the 7's; then our chances of producing a profit increases substantially. Conversely, on the come-out roll I use the "hardways" set, but alter my grip and release point; and a preponderance of 7's show up.

On Controlled Throwing (or…Why isn't everyone a Major League Ball-Player?)

Similar to a Major League baseball pitcher, each player has their own grip, release, throw, etc. My grip is unorthodox in that I use the thumb and ring (fourth) finger as pincers at the end of the side-by-side dice. The index finger and the middle finger are used to stabilize the dice as they are squeezed in preparation for the throw. The throw and loft are very soft and easy. The dice have very little in-air spin and usually land completely flat, and sometimes stop dead right at the base of the wall. Other times, depending on the trajectory, power, age and condition of the felt, age (in hours) of the dice; the dice will gently roll to the wall and roll back two full rotations before they stop. This grip is hard to master because of the tendency for one of the die to split-off of the forward axis, and flop over onto the axis face. However, the reward in mastering this grip and release is that the consistency is virtually unmatched with anything else that I've tried. Again be mindful that it is the most sensitive of the grips and even the length of your fingernails very severely affect its performance.

On the Tax-Man (or…Given the choice between Death and Taxes, I'll choose…?)

I understand that there may be as many as 500 people who make a full-time living from playing this game.  I cannot believe that all of them are in hiding, afraid that the IRS will swoop in to take an ungodly percentage of their hard-earned craps winnings. I hope that I'm not the only one who pays taxes on their yearly craps income, but I suspect that I am in the minority.  Perhaps the house-edge is tax enough for everyone.

On Grumpy Old Men (or…Is that guy dead or just sleeping until it's his turn?)

Legendary gambler, Nick the Greek, on his death-bed said "...put all my money on the Don't Pass...I'm not going to make this Point..."

I would say that most of the grizzled craps veterans in Vegas, AC, Laughlin, Reno and Biloxi who make a daily living at this game play the Don't Pass. They are content to grind out a $30 to $50 daily income. That income is augmented by their Pensions, Annuities, Stocks, Bonds and Savings that usually covers their monthly nut.

I do not include those people in the "professional" category for a number of reasons. I am happy for them, but they sure seem to be a sour, ill-tempered, no-humor, life-is-a-bitch and I'm living with her sort of bunch. They are usually retired, and they hover around a craps pit like vultures waiting for the right opportunity to swoop in as soon as the body (table) starts to get cold. I'm not critical of them because of their play...in fact I admire their opportunistic style of play. We could all learn something from that.

On Professional Players (or…Vegas on Two Dollars a day!)

I define "professionals" as those who use craps as their sole source of income AND make at least $50,000 per year. Most that I know make in the $100,000 to $300,000 range per year. NO, none of them sell their "systems" or write books...direct craps play is their only way.  

The professionals that I do know use income-producing craps to fuel a lifestyle that they would otherwise be unable to obtain, or they are unwilling to dedicate themselves to other equally lucrative careers for a variety of reasons. Still others have been the "lucrative career" route, achieved greatness, and no longer feel like they have to prove anything to themselves or others to achieve happiness, security, comfort, and satisfaction as some define by corporate ascendance in "climbing the ladder".

In those cases, the 30 to 35 professionals that I do personally know play quite a bit differently than the above-mentioned retirees. Each one is a Precision-Shooter.   Their style of play matches their dice shooting-style. They play the Pass Line and Place-cover the numbers that they have preponderance for throwing. If other certain numbers keep reappearing during a particularly long roll, they add or adjust their bets accordingly. One guy that I know throws a disproportionate number of 3's and 12's; and sometimes as many as six of them in a row. Those numbers are his profit generators. Others are content with re-rolling the 6 & 8 several times during a hand while "locking in" profit, as well as conservatively ratcheting up those Place bets as the hand progresses.

On Discipline (or…Promise you'll spank me if I misbehave?)

Discipline is the single-most important factor in determining whether you will walk away from the casino with a profit 9 times out of 10. In fact, it is Discipline that will let you drive away from the casino in just about any car that you desire based on your income-producing ability as a Precision-Shooter.  Discipline, combined with Money Management, sufficient Bankroll, various Betting Methods and Precision-Shooting are the not-so-secret characteristics that keep all of us in the game for short, medium and long-term profit. 

On the Mad Professor (or…Now I know why they call him MAD!)

Do my thoughts confound or disturb you?  Do you think that someone is stepping on my oxygen hose?  Do you think that the 1960's were just a little TOO kind to the Mad Professor?  Do you think that the warden knows that I missed bed-check?   If you think that way, please feel free to e-mail me at this web-site.  Those e-mails written in crayon will get priority attention.

Good Luck & Good Skill at the Tables.

Back to The Mad Professor Speaks Main Page! 



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